First things first: Bahraini police arrested an 11-year-old child for "illegal gathering" and "disturbing security," then detained him for 23 days without letting him see a lawyer, after which Mr. Hassan -- who, being eleven, is surely not trained in the ways of surviving an absurd and incomprehensible interrogation -- finally "confessed." I say again: an 11-year-old! What goes through the mind of the people who do this? "Well, that'll show all those people protesting peacefully in the streets! After all, imprisoning, torturing, and killing them didn't show them." In the long view, I suppose all this means that the Bahraini government is thisfar from crumbling, but that's not much of a comfort to Ali Hassan or his family, nor to our need for justice, so Amnesty International helps you tell the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against Mr. Hassan. We have reasons to protect children, you know, and the Bahraini government seems to be acting out most of those reasons as we speak.
Meanwhile, closer to home, HB 1659 would "reform" the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's permit review process -- but not to better protect our air and water, but to better protect corporate profits. HB 1659 would deem all applications "accepted" if they're not reviewed within 90 days, regardless of whether or not the granted permit would harm our air and water, and Section 303 of the bill would mandate the DEP to "implement a plan to use qualified nondepartmental employees to undertake permit application reviews," and by "nondepartmental employees" they surely mean corporate executives and campaign donors. The bill's author, of course, cites exactly one example of a coal company that allegedly waited a few years for a permit, but as Neil Gabler might say, one incident of chicken pox doesn't constitute an epidemic. So Penn Environment helps you tell your state Reps and Senators to oppose HB 1659.
In other news, you may know that scientists have linked the ubiquitous plastic chemical bisphenol A (or BPA) to cancer, obesity, diabetes, estrogen disruption, and genetic defects -- but you may not know that soup maker Progresso, despite its attempt to position itself as a "healthy" canned soup choice, lines its cans with dangerous levels of BPA. That's "dangerous" as in 80 times more than you should have in a day in some samples reviewed by Consumer Reports. Now, I suppose some folks will tell us that we shouldn't be eating canned soups anyway, or even debating how to make canned soups healthier, but I'd respond that those people must never have had to raise a family or get anywhere quickly. So change.org helps you tell Progresso to remove the BPA from its soup cans. This isn't a shot in the dark -- Campbell's has already agreed to stop using BPA in its soup cans after a similiar public outcry, so, like so may other things in life, we can do this.
Finally, if you've missed opportunities to stop the Trans-Pacific "Partnership" from moving forward, Sum of Us provides another one. This petition concentrates on the TPP's attempts to clamp down on normal, everyday internet use, and the TPP is truly a SOPA or PIPA on steroids -- it would allow corporations to shut down your website merely on accusations of copyright theft, and it would allow corporations to collect all sorts of private information about you merely by making such an accusation. And people think government is like Big Brother! The TPP would make any corporation a far worse Big Brother -- one you can't fight back with your government's help, no less, since the TPP also subjects disagreements over copyright infringement to its infamous "investor tribunals." You'd think corporations would avoid copyright infringement simply by co-opting the technologies that enable it -- after all, it worked for iTunes. But, by and large, they won't, because they only care about short-term profits, not the long-term health of the societies in which they operate -- or even long-term profits.